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Member Voices

Member Voices

Janine Sullivan-Wiley: Community Advocate

Janine Sullivan-Wiley

Janine Sullivan-Wiley

Janine Sullivan-Wiley is Executive Director of the Northwest Regional Mental Health Board, Co-Convener of the Council on the Workforce for Adults, and loves dogs, gardening, kayaking, hiking, yoga and travel. She grew up in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York when it was rural. Her appreciation for the countryside originated in her growing-up years, when she enjoyed woods, farms and fields – and each year saw them reduced by residential development.

As a student at SUNY Stony Brook, Janine began as a research biologist and changed to a double major in psychology and studio art. Her early roots in research biology resurface periodically in her ongoing interest in physical and natural science. Along the way, she obtained a Master’s degree in psychology, met and married her husband, and had two children whose interests as adults reflect Janine’s in science and art. She now lives in Middlebury, Connecticut and is very active in her community, including volunteer work, women’s club, Earth-day clean-up, nature walks, and cherub choir at church. Her passion for travel has led her to many countries in Europe, Africa and Asia, in the Caribbean and Central America and camping in many parts of the United States. Janine believes in voluntarism as a way of helping explore other aspects of self, community, and world.
In the late 1970’s she worked as coordinator for a community program on Long Island that helped people in transition from psychiatric hospitals into local communities. She also gained experience in quality assurance work. In Connecticut, she first joined the Northwest Regional Mental Health Board as mental health planner in 1992, becoming Interim Executive Director in 1996 and Executive Director in 1998. The Northwest Regional Board is one of five across the state dedicated to improving the quality of life for people in their recovery from mental illness and addiction. Its geographic area spans forty-three towns. The Board advises, advocates, plans, educates and assesses needs and programs to promote enhanced services, bringing consumers, family members, providers and the community together to ensure quality services.
“I’m passionate about my work,” Janine said. “People in recovery need a strong service system responsive to their needs. A strong service system needs a strong workforce.” Janine’s advocacy efforts have included policy reform and work incentives. She noted that our entitlements systems and supported employment systems are often incompatible, giving a real double message especially for young people experiencing illness: it is very hard to both work and get on Social Security. She emphasized that work is an integral part of wellness.

Regarding important workforce goals, she really likes the current emphasis on changing supervision from “negative scrutiny” to something expected and valued by employees for personal development and improvement. Other key workforce goals she identified include increasing employment of persons in recovery, enhanced cultural competence, and the need for more psychiatrists. How can the Collaborative contribute to realizing these goals? “One goal at a time.” Or, to paraphrase Home Depot, “We can do it; you can help.”

A “person for all seasons,” Janine brings her community advocacy and diverse interests together as a valued Collaborative member and leader.


 

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